Here’s the unspoken reality: Many business owners would rather deliver their expertise than sell it. As long as there’s enough business to stay busy, they can rationalize avoiding sales activities.
Is that you? That was Bob. He had no sales plan and decided NOT to create one because he and his company were too busy fulfilling existing orders. Then the unimaginable happened. Doing what he had always done stopped working. He got caught flat-footed. Sales dropped 60% and now Bob was desperate to make sales.
What can you do to avoid Bob’s fate and keep your sales pipeline full in the face of the unexpected?
Here are the three ingredients to my secret sauce for keeping your pipeline full:
1. Reframe how you think about sales.
The things you think are true will drive your actions. If you’d rather be doing anything but sales, assess your thoughts about sales and selling. These beliefs kill sales activity:
- Sales is beneath me.
- Salespeople are dishonest and manipulative.
- Sales is a fallback for people who can’t do anything else.
You can feel the negativity as you read those statements. Try shifting your thoughts to these instead:
- Sales make it possible to provide for me, my family and my employees.
- Selling is honorable when done with a heart to serve the needs of the buyer, vs. getting something for myself.
- Being good at sales takes as much work as being good at my area of expertise.
Reshaping how you think about sales is fundamental to being able to sustain necessary sales activities.
2. Create a sustainable prospecting plan.
If you don’t have a prospecting plan you’re planning to fail. If you have a plan and don’t follow it, you might as well not have one. Create a sales plan that you can commit to over the long-term. Think about small steps you can take consistently, that will help generate new leads and get more business from existing customers. Think about doing one of these:
- Refine your ideal target audience based on current customer characteristics. List at least 7 characteristics your favorite clients have in common. This list will help you be laser focused on where you search for and how you qualify leads.
- Contact one person each day who could potentially use what you sell. Make it an “I’d like to get to know you” call not a “Do you want to buy my stuff”’ call.
- Schedule regular calls with existing customers to ask “How are we doing? What can we do better? How are your needs changing? What do you wish we carried that we don’t? Pick one that is most appropriate to help you better serve your customer base.
3. Put an end to constructive avoidance
When you dislike sales, it’s easy to find something else that urgently needs your attention. Instead, ruthlessly protect your sales activity commitments. Pick one thing and commit to DO IT. Put a time frame on getting it done and share your commitment with an accountability partner who won’t let you procrastinate.
Ultimately, your success always comes down to the thoughts that drive your actions. Realigning your perspective of sales will enable you to reap the benefits of the real secret sauce in sales. It’s not fancy and you’ve probably heard it before: Do a little bit, consistently, over a long period time. You can improve your results by having a robust sales plan and by refining your communication strategies.
The bottom line: You won’t see an increase in your bottom line until you create a sales activity plan and work it.